Kid Lit Review of “Sweet Dreamers” by Isabelle Simler

Each double-page spread of this book for young readers (ages 3-8) features one of twenty-seven different sleeping animals (or insects, birds, or fish). The author speculates in poetic form (translated from the French by Sarah Ardizzone) about what each might dream about, and in so doing, teaches kids about what the creature does during the day.

The illustrations done by the author may remind children of scratch art projects in school in which they etch colors onto a black background. The bright colors stand out and create a delightfully surprising twist to art done on a white surface. In this book, the technique is particularly appropriate, since it is about what takes place in the dark. The visually arresting result glows, thanks to the luminescent colors the author uses over the background.

The living things in the book include a sloth, stingray, whale, snail, cat, flamingo, and rabbit, inter alia, with the last in the series showing a young girl asleep and dreaming about all the animals in the book. There are also spreads with no creatures at all, depicting the night sky in a setting in which one can find the animals that follow. For example, a lovely pond with neon-orange accents precedes the spreads beginning with a frog; a mesmerizing forest at night is followed by a feature on a wolf.

The poetry is free verse, meaning that it does not rhyme, but is still clearly an artistic rather than a narrative expression of ideas. For example, about the cat, the author writes:

“Even as she dreams,
The cat is on the lookout.
At the rustle of a leaf,
Her ears twitch.
At the beating of a wing,
Her whiskers quiver.
She purrs herself back to sleep again.”

This is a bedtime book unlike most others. Children will want to return to it during the day to learn more about the creatures introduced by Simler.

Rating: 4/5

Published in the U.S. by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2019

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1 Response to Kid Lit Review of “Sweet Dreamers” by Isabelle Simler

  1. BermudaOnion says:

    The illustrations are gorgeous and it sounds like the verse is lovely as well.

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